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Question of the Week
What is REIT and do you advise me to invest in one?
A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a trust company that accumulates a pool of money through an initial public offering (IPO) which is then used to buy, develop, manage and sell assets in real estate. The IPO is identical to any other security offerings with many of the same rules regarding disclosure and reporting requirements and regulations. The investor, instead of purchasing stock in a single company, is buying a unit which is actually a portion of a managed pool of real estate. This pool of real estate then generates income through renting, leasing, selling and financing of property and distributes it directly to the REIT holder on a regular basis.
Units held in a REIT can be bought like a stock on a stock exchange. The REIT invests in real estate directly either by buying, selling or leasing properties or by investing in property mortgages.
Individuals can invest in REITs either by purchasing their shares directly on an open exchange or by investing in a mutual fund that specializes in REITs that are listed on the stock exchange. Among other things, REITs invest in shopping malls, office buildings, apartments, warehouses and hotels.
Investing in REITs is a liquid, dividend-paying means of participating in the real estate market. REITS allow the average investor the ability to invest in real estate without investing large amounts of capital or devoting a lot of time in directly managing a property portfolio.
Around 60% of the occupants in our building are members of the OA, and I am being persuaded to join. Are they fully functional in representing the interests of homeowners?
The effectiveness of owners associations (OAs) will vary greatly depending on the commitment and expertise of the owners. I suggest you attend the meetings and see how you can contribute.
An OA is comprised of and represents all of the owners of a jointly-owned property development which is registered as an official entity with RERA. Its purpose is to manage, operate and maintain the common areas. The OA is also empowered to select and appoint suppliers and companies. A functioning OA will go a long way to ensuring that owners get what they pay for. Property owners should actively participate in the operation of their OA. Neglecting to do so is to ignore the maintenance of their own property asset and live with the consequences.
I heard about a new project called Ajmal Sarah which is located at Dubailand Residence. Do you advise me to invest there and why?
The Ajmal Sarah Tower is one of the latest additions to a hive of activity in Dubailand. It is the flagship real estate project for the renowned Ajmal brand of perfumes. It has been designed and constructed to a very high standard and features high levels of quality and luxury elements from some world-leading luxury brands. It offers spacious units with a choice of studio, 1 B/R, 2 B/R and 3 B/R apartments, and provides state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. Being located in the Dubailand Residence, it enjoys a location surrounded by leisure, shopping and entertainment options. With prices starting from around Dh530K and an in-house payment plan, the property provides excellent value for the astute investor. I would recommend it.
We keep hearing that the market is cooling off. Do you think that there will be a major correction or dip in the market?
I believe a minor price correction is underway. The price/demand correlation is definitely in play as the latest figures from the Dubai Land Department have confirmed what we have all been surmising, that despite being 4.6% higher than the corresponding period in 2013, the property market in Dubai in the first six months of 2014 has been slowing, with the second quarter producing Dh52 billion worth of transactions, down 15% on the Dh61 billion that was written in the first quarter.
However, I must reiterate that the pace of growth is falling back to what we might describe as being sustainable, not slipping into a period of deep, across-the-board price contraction. We expect the market to achieve an average price growth of around 7% for the remainder of 2014 and maintain this average growth rate through to the end of 2015.
What is the difference between freehold and leasehold?
This is a very important question to resolve when considering the acquisition of a property as it determines whether you own your property outright or whether you have a landlord for the duration of your “leasehold.” If you own a freehold property, you essentially own any buildings or structures and the land it stands on outright. You are registered as the freehold owner with the Dubai Land Department and you will own the property until you decide to dispose of it. Leasehold, on the other hand, means that you acquire the rights to occupy a property for a fixed period courtesy of a lease contract created with the owner. The leases are usually long term, often 99 years and frequently allow the lease holder to make modifications. However, they must do so recognizant that they do not actually own the property and must vacate eventually if the leasehold is not renewed.
Source: Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate, Special to Freehold